Emeka Ogboh shows Verbal Mapping II as art infects Cape Town

Posted: March 14, 2013 in arts/culture

cape town tourism Cape Town’s artists are coming out to play again, and bringing with them friends from other cities in South Africa and abroad as Infecting The City 2013, the annual free public arts festival that invites ordinary folks to interrogate their city and interact with artists in unusual urban settings opens.

This year, expect performances and visual art in the station, the squares, the museums, the gardens and the streets of the Mother City’s vibrant city bowl. Infecting the City runs from March 11 through to 16.

Infecting The City places exciting new artworks in unexpected spaces in the middle of the city, challenging Cape Town’s ideas of art and public space. The festival is designed as a series of routes through the city. Each day has either one or two routes in the afternoon and evening,” said organizers.

The programme is also available online, allowing the participant to pick the day, time and route in the same way as he or she can either download the entire programme.

Festival curator Jay Pather launched the programme at The Taj Hotel on a sweltering Monday afternoon – the city temperature reached 38˚C under a scorching sun – offering some tantalising glimpses into what to expect throughout the week. “Art is an expression of humanity; art is life” was the philosophy resonating through Pather, his audience and indeed, the festival as a whole.

The application pool for participation trebled this year, he pointed out, with 320 submissions received. The artists come from Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban, Maputo, Nairobi, Berlin, London, Paris, Amsterdam and various cities in the US. It is a truly global festival, a reflection of Cape Town’s cosmopolitan nature.

They are bringing with them dance, theatre, music, visual arts, multi-disciplinary arts, and a light symphony. There is also “restaging, or repositioning classic works to bring new interpretations and understandings”.

“The works interrogate the city. The nature of the festival makes the art accessible to a range of people – other artists and ordinary people who may not usually go to view art,” Pather says.

It opens up a whole world of debate on how the city is perceived, how residents interact with the city, its architecture, its structure, its public spaces and open places. “For the artist, it is very daunting to be so exposed, creating outside his comfort zone of his studio.”

Pather points out that this year, there is no overarching theme. The idea is simply to have a conversation with the city and its inhabitants. While there are performances in places as diverse as Thibault Square, The Company’s Garden, the station, and the District 6 Museum, “these works talk to each other”. And audience participation is encouraged to get the dialogue going.

There is plenty on offer. Try out Emeka Ogboh’s installation Verbal Mapping II, for example. The artist will be replanting taxi calls from Lagos in busy Adderley Street. There will be flash mobs by Unima Puppets and Shaun Acker will be performing In/Apt: A Contemporary Public Hanging, on a slack rope over Government Avenue.

In possibly the most logistically complex item, Sk8 Collective’s Beyond the Skatepark, 300 skateboarders will skate down the length of Long Street – against the flow of traffic, it must be said – ending in Thibault Square, where a skate performance will retell the history of the fringe sport.

The best place to view the downhill run will be at the bottom of Long Street, so you can watch the mass come down the hill and enter the square at the bottom.

And finally, there is Arts Aweh!, the educational component. It has two legs, firstly, the Africa Centre and Inyanda Youth Network collaboration, in which youth from the Philippi, Dunoon and Mfuleni communities participated in 10 weeks of performing arts workshops culminating in a series of local performances and one collective flash mob performance called Shadows in Infecting The City.

Secondly, up to 500 pupils from grades 10 to 12 from various Cape Town schools will receive a facilitated festival experience. In groups of 20, the participants will experience and discuss the works with a seasoned artist. Up to 60 of them will be invited back to the final day to participate in the Arts Aweh! flashmob.

Infecting the City is produced by Africa Centre, in collaboration with Gipca, the Gordon Institute for Performing and Creative Arts at the University of Cape Town, and various organisations, embassies and cultural attachés.

Africa Centre is a “social innovator that provides a platform for exploring contemporary Pan-African cultural practice and intellectual pursuit as a catalyst for social change.”

Pather is the director of Gipca

Advertisements

Comments are closed.